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Option in Special Education

The master’s degree in Teaching, Learning and Leadership with an option in Special Education is designed to train and equip educators who work with students with disabilities across a variety of K-12 educational settings. Our graduates have the foundational knowledge and skills needed to work with children with disabilities by addressing academic, communication, social, behavioral and adaptive skills. We prepare educators who value diversity, life-long learning and advocate for quality educational opportunities for all students.


We offer pathways for those seeking to work with children with mild/moderate disabilities and for those seeking to provide intensive behavioral and academic interventions for a successful student learning experience. Program curriculum addresses the principles of special education, positive behavior interventions and supports and applied behavior analysis. Coursework has been verified by Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), which gives students the opportunity to pursue national board certification in behavior analysis.

100%job placement

in a variety of K-12 educational settings

Coursework preview:

  • Advanced Interventions for Increased Academic Achievement
  • Improving Literacy Skills of Individuals with Disabilities
  • Planning, Compliance & Instruction in Special Education
  • Transition into Adulthood for Individuals with Disabilities
  • Characteristics & Teaching Methods for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Classroom & Behavior Management
  • Behavioral Assessment and Consultation
  • Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Culturally Responsive Teaching in Special Education

Course information


Research and Faculty

Research within our program is collaborative and interdisciplinary. We work closely with our school psychology, educational technology, veterinary medicine and early childhood education colleagues. Such collaborations have resulted in international travel opportunities, national and international publication, grant funding and national conference presentations for our students and faculty. 


Our faculty represent a broad range of special education experience, including classroom teachers, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, special education administration and school counseling. Faculty highlights include: 


  • Dr. Candace Schell is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with doctoral designation (BCBA-D), a certification held by only 2 percent of individuals working in higher education. She is active in two grant-funded projects, including Project Aware and Project Engage. She was also featured in this episode of Straight Talk About Research.
  • Dr. Penny Cantley was the lead writer on ME!, a curriculum developed to help educators teach transition skills to students with disabilities. She is also actively involved in interdisciplinary research and service that examines the implementation of animal assisted interventions (AAI) and animal assisted activities (AAA) as supports for students with and without disabilities in secondary and postsecondary education settings.

Teacher certification

Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Meet our faculty

College research initiatives



Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. Applicants are encouraged to submit application materials at least six weeks prior to the start of the semester. 


To apply to the Teaching, Learning and Leadership - option in Special Education, MS program, complete the following:

Teacher and student

  • Graduate College application
  • Transcripts from all previously attended institutions
  • Current resume/vita
  • Personal goal statement (500 words)
  • Two letters of recommendation

Graduate student resources


Cost & Assistance

The federal TEACH Grant Program may provide up to $4,000 a year to aid students seeking degrees in high-needs fields and who meet specific eligibility requirements. Students must sign an Agreement to Serve and acknowledge that if the terms are not fulfilled, the grant will be converted to a loan that must be repaid.


Currently enrolled students are also eligible for scholarships offered through the College of Education and Human Sciences. 





Financing graduate school

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